August 27, 2012
欢欣餐厅 – Alleluia Café, Richmond BC
川酱茄子班球煲 (Fish Fillet & Eggplants in Szechuan Sauce Hot Pot)
茄汁牛脷烩意大利粉 (Ox-tongue in Tomato Sauce w/ Spaghetti)
水蜜桃绿茶 (Peach Green Tea Bubble Tea)
Finally, I got to meet up with fellow Quaker and Vancouverite, David. For some reason, my thank you for helping me move out last semester turned into a free dinner courtesy of him. Well, there will be many opportunities later. We went to Alleluia Café, since I have only been there once, was pleased with that meal, and know it is extremely popular. Even on a Monday night, the restaurant was 80% full, which is a good sign.
The server first brought us the two bowls of soup that came with our main dishes. The Chinese Soup had a slight herbal taste to it from the somewhat bitter vegetables in it, which was some sort of bok choy-like greens. It was quite plain but served as a nice palate cleanser.
The other soup was the Cream Soup, which had bits of bacon, potato cubes, and mini clams swimming in a watered down Asian-influenced cream soup. The ingredients were okay but my main concern was the cream soup. It was creamy but neither rich nor thick. Being watered down quite a lot, especially since Asians do not usually drink soup so creamy and rich as your regular western soups, the flavour was quite bland.
The first entrée was the 川酱茄子班球煲 (Fish Fillet & Eggplants in Szechuan Sauce Hot Pot). The stone pot was of a decent size for $8.95, filled with sizzling pan-fried fish fillet pieces and eggplants. The chili sauce had a decent amount of heat, very evident but not the least bit overwhelming. The eggplants were soft but not too mushy and soaked up a lot of the sauce flavour. The fish fillets were battered and slightly fried, so there was quite a bit of batter instead of just fish. However, there were so many pieces and the fish was tender and succulent, yet still firm. The batter helped to soak up a lot of flavour as well. Everything was nicely coated in the plentiful sauce and the dish worked well.
The 茄汁牛脷烩意大利粉 (Ox-tongue in Tomato Sauce w/ Spaghetti) had been on my list of ‘foods I have to try’ since the day I started eating at such Hong Kong cafés. Yes, it is that traditional. For $10.95, we got five huge slices of beef tongue over a large bed of spaghetti, topped with the Asian-style western tomato sauce. The tongue was tender but a little rough at times. However, part of it also melted in my mouth. It was likely boiled first, though, so it did not have much flavour besides the tomato sauce on the exterior. Speaking of the sauce, it was mostly made with ketchup and had a nice thickness to it. There were mushrooms, onions, peas, corn, and carrots mixed into the tomato and the sauce. I really liked that sweet and sour flavour. The spaghetti was cooked slightly more than al dente so it was still firm but not exactly chewy. I could definitely have used a lot more sauce than they gave us since there was so much spaghetti.
We got bubble teas to drink instead of the accompanying beverages for $2.50 each. I decided on the 水蜜桃绿茶 (Peach Green Tea Bubble Tea) with coconut jelly since I do not recall when the last time I ate coconut jelly was. The tea was rather sweet, but I love sweetness. I found the artificial peach flavour to be quite strong and loved the cold drink. The coconut jelly was very chewy and also sweet, and since it cannot really be done poorly unlike traditional tapioca pearls, the drink overall was very good.
Alleluia Café really do give generous portions. The service is mediocre; we did not get bad service but David did not get his drink – which is not necessarily hard to make – until more than halfway through. The restaurant seemed clean and casual, though, a nice place to catch up with friends and laugh over some affordable comfort food.